Facebook "Nearby Friends" Lets People Track Your Precise Location

Cognimancer

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Jun 13, 2012
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Facebook "Nearby Friends" Lets People Track Your Precise Location



Facebook's upcoming Nearby Friends feature can tell your friends exactly where you are.

Facebook is starting to roll out a new feature that broadcasts your exact location using your mobile device's GPS. "Nearby Friends" lets you know when your friends are close, and gives you the option to send them a real-time map of exactly where you are. It carries some decidedly Violation-Of-Privacy-flavored risks, so it's opt-in for now. But Facebook would really love for you to enable it and use it all the time, and maybe enjoy some location-based ads while you're at it.

People tend to get nervous when their physical location data is involved, but the GPS feature itself seems pretty innocuous. The "precise location" broadcast only lasts as long as you allow it to, and only gets sent to the people you choose. However, your general location seems to be available to all your friends, and you'll be notified if one of your Facebook friends happens to be near you (if you both have the feature enabled). Even if you don't know exactly where they are, a pop-up announcing "John Smith is nearby" is a little more information than I really want to know at any given moment.

Opting into the feature also turns on Location History for your account, letting Facebook know where you've been and serving you relevant advertisements. If you aren't comfortable sharing your whereabouts with faceless corporations and casual acquaintances, you can toggle it on or off at any time in your account settings.

Source: Techlicious [http://www.techlicious.com/blog/facebook-location-sharing-nearby-friends/]

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SKBPinkie

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Oct 6, 2013
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Makes me wonder why people were surprised about the NSA stuff.

Facebook and other social media has been far, far more creepy for way longer. At least the NSA doesn't make that information available to the public.

P.S. Not defending them; they're assholes too.
 

Chessrook44

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No. Just, no.

Facebook, Stahp. Please. You're crossing lines here.
 

sleeky01

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SKBPinkie said:
Makes me wonder why people were surprised about the NSA stuff.

Facebook and other social media has been far, far more creepy for way longer. At least the NSA doesn't make that information available to the public.

P.S. Not defending them; they're assholes too.
Not only that, but it seems to me that if you have a desire to let everyone know that you are close by..... How narcissistic can you be?
 

Orks da best

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Another reason for me to not use social media, as if I didn't have enough reasons.

Hmmm maybe facebook is a hidden arm of the NSA?
 

Shamanic Rhythm

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Let me guess, whenever the next 'simplified' privacy controls are rolled out, this will quietly be switched to 'on' by default.
 

tippy2k2

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I'm curious who this thing is actually for...

Maybe other people wander around aimlessly because they're bored and it's something to do but if I'm going somewhere, I have a purpose of going there. If I wanted someone else to come with me, I'd have invited them. If I'm blindly groping out for a friend and I'm throwing a bottle into the ocean to see if someone's around, I'd just post to Facebook that I'm at X Location.

An automated system just seems like a terrible idea with really really strong negatives (maybe I don't want to hang out with that person or maybe a stalker of an ex is wondering which dark alleys I like to hang around at) and a handful of positives for a very select group of people.
 

Riverwolf

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I agree that this is very disturbing, and yet another reason for me to never have a personal Facebook account.

HOWEVER!

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate and list some potential positive uses for this kind of technology.

It can help locate missing people, especially children.
It can help track down wanted criminals.
It can help friends keep track of where each other is, in case someone's running late for something.
It can help parents know exactly where their kids are, for their safety and to make sure they're not going places they shouldn't.

I'm sure there's a few other potential positives. But in this climate of privacy violations, fears of Big Brother, and illegal government surveillance, it's not welcome. All those positives have existing technologies and techniques that are effective and still be respectful of privacy. As a result, these few positives don't outweigh or equalize the several negatives.
 

Rabid_meese

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I don't think its that bad. You have to opt in to it, meaning its not a default. And its a useful feature for people who want to use it. I'm all for technology that has specific benefits if they are honest and upfront about what it means about your private information. Facebook having dibs that I'm at a local movie theater isn't a threat to me - and if the future ever becomes so dystopian that I do need to worry about it, I doubt using Facebook or my cell phone will be a high priority.

As for people concerned about privacy concerns - don't opt in. And while your at it, get rid of your cellphone. You're essentially carrying around a camera and mouth piece with a GPS tracker on it. On top of governmental concerns, I'd wager money that any hacker who wanted to crack into your phone probably could.
 

The Rogue Wolf

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Shamanic Rhythm said:
Let me guess, whenever the next 'simplified' privacy controls are rolled out, this will quietly be switched to 'on' by default.
And every update to the rules after that. I mean, after all, you really do want everyone to know where you are at all times, don't you? Don't be silly, of course you do.

I think I'll continue not being on Facebook, at least until they somehow manage to turn that on without my permission!
 

Ed130 The Vanguard

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Sep 10, 2008
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Riverwolf said:
I agree that this is very disturbing, and yet another reason for me to never have a personal Facebook account.

HOWEVER!

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate and list some potential positive uses for this kind of technology.

It can help locate missing people, especially children.
It can help track down wanted criminals.
It can help friends keep track of where each other is, in case someone's running late for something.
It can help parents know exactly where their kids are, for their safety and to make sure they're not going places they shouldn't.

I'm sure there's a few other potential positives. But in this climate of privacy violations, fears of Big Brother, and illegal government surveillance, it's not welcome. All those positives have existing technologies and techniques that are effective and still be respectful of privacy. As a result, these few positives don't outweigh or equalize the several negatives.
There are simpler programs out there for phones that do the exact same thing, minus displaying the targets location to everyone of course.
 

s_h_a_d_o

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Rabid_meese said:
I don't think its that bad. You have to opt in to it, meaning its not a default.
I'm willing to bet that the actual tracking functionality will be default, and the only option available, will be if (and with whom) one wants to share that information.
 

Pyrian

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This is why Android desperately needs the ability to simply deny certain privileges to certain Apps, whether they request it or not.
 

RedBackDragon

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thank dear lord that i dont own a phone with a gps / smartphone OR have facebook twit-ter myspace or... well any of that crazyness
 

smithy_2045

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It's opt-in, and you can easily disable your phone's GPS. If you don't like it, it's extremely easy not to use it.
 

schrodinger

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Well ain't that a new level of creepy. Good job facebook, you'll make stalking even easier! Truly they are the paragons of progress and privacy. Yes yes a person can disable the stupid thing, but the creepy intentions are still there.
 

JET1971

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And then Facebook does some tweaks to the settings and everyone gets to see exactly where you are at all times just like all those other times they made changes making privacy settings the opposite of what you had set already. This is just one more Facebook thing to avoid like a rabid pitbull chained up with a paper chain.